In 2003, I walked across the stage to receive my high school diploma. I remember thinking, “What’s all the hype about? I am still in school. I will just have to pay for it from now on.” In 2007, I walked across the stage to receive my diploma for my Bachelor of Science degree. I remember thinking, “It’s still not over.”
I knew at some point that I wanted a Master’s degree. It was just an accomplishment I longed for since the very beginning of college. I was burnt out and I needed a break, but I knew I would return some day.
In 2011, I returned to college. I had a full time job, a husband and mortgage. The pressure was on and this experience was not like the past. I spent my evenings and weekends doing homework. I could only take 1-2 classes at a time as my adult schedule was hectic and my stubborn mortgage and student loans were not going to pay for themselves.
Halfway through the master’s program I gave birth to my precious baby boy. I continued. I persevered. Even though I had a new role, a mom to a little boy, I still wanted to achieve this goal.
A little more than a year later, I got pregnant again! Intelligent, I know.
My schedule to graduate was rushed and my last semester was filled with 2 difficult classes, a hectic work life, a lively toddler, a husband also in college and still a stubborn mortgage and student loans. (Let’s not forget a sick father who almost died. Read Need Is Okay for more details.) Still I was not going to stop. I wanted to accomplish this goal of becoming a master (my sister rolls her eyes when I say that)!
The day came. Graduation day. I traveled to Conway, Arkansas – home of the University of Central Arkansas and the online program I decided to undertake. That day I would walk across the stage and feel accomplished. I would feel “done.” I would take a deep breath, smile up to my parents, and hope they felt as proud of me as I was of myself. I would know that I accomplished a goal that I sought after and COMPLETED. I had been waiting for this day since I graduated from high school – 11 years ago!
So, this happened.
I walked across the stage in early labor pains and grabbed my diploma. I smiled for the photographer, despite the pain. I returned to my seat. I texted my sister who was with the rest of my family in the auditorium. When the right moment came, I left the auditorium as fast as I could to get to the hospital. The only feeling I had was fear that my baby girl was coming at only 31 weeks.
Even though that moment and that day was not about me, that is okay. I got over it quick. Because I know, she will be proud of me later and that is all that matters.